I came across this great article on CNN.com about 5 things not to say to new college graduates and I was inspired to build upon it. Instead of 5 phrases to avoid—I’ve got 10. And I heard many of them when I graduated in 2009. Take notes, parents. This little list could save you from having an awkward conversation with your recent college graduate (and possibly even a fight).
Here are my 10 Conversation No-No’s with your recent college graduate:
1. “You’ll find something!”
Despite your good intentions, this mild attempt at reassurance won’t be very convincing. Consider beefing up your statement with, “New positions are posted online all the time. Have you signed up to receive daily job notifications yet? Something is sure to pop up soon.”
2. “Tonight at 10 there’ll be a special on the most in-demand careers of the year on TV. Make sure you watch it.”
If your kid is a graduate they probably have a degree in their field of interest and specific career goals in mind. So if you think about it—how beneficial will this news report be now that they’ve graduated? There’s nothing wrong with bringing the special to your child’s attention, but try to be mindful of how you do it.
3. “Maybe if you’d majored in [insert major] like I told you to, you wouldn’t be scrambling for work.”
This is water under the bridge. There’s no going back now. And sure, your kid might have a job if they’d followed your advice, but would they be happy at work? Maybe…but maybe not.
4. “Do you have a job lined up?”
If they did, you’d probably know. Very few firms hire seniors before graduation, so more times than not, the answer to this question is going to be negative. Save your son or daughter the potential embarrassment and skip this question.
5. “[Insert restaurant] has a sign in the window—they’re hiring for summer. I picked up an application for you.”
If it’s only been a few days or even weeks since your child walked off with their diploma (and they’re doing okay financially), consider cooling your jets. Finding a full-time job takes time. Suggesting temporary, part-time work so soon may (unintentionally) suggest that you’ve already lost hope in their job search.
6. “What about your friend, [insert friend’s name]? She/he has a job.”
There could be a multitude of reasons why your kid’s friends are gainfully employed and they’re not. Maybe their friends have connections. Maybe they’re in an in-demand field. Maybe the job market isn’t as competitive where they’ve been applying.
7. “My [insert relative] just graduated, and she’s doing great!”
It’s awesome that you know graduates who are excelling despite the dismal economy, but you may be scaring your child with their enviable success stories. They may prefer to go on thinking that everyone is as lost as they are. So in this case, pass along said relative’s contact information (if your child doesn’t already have it) and suggest they find out what worked for them in their job search.
8. “What can you do with that degree?”
Even if you’re truly not sure what the career path for a certain degree is, don’t ask this question this way. If you do, you risk sounding judgmental. Instead, try spinning it like this: “Pardon my ignorance, but what types of jobs do people with that degree end up having? What are you looking to get into?”
9. “If you can’t find a job, maybe you should go to grad school.”
If your kid doesn’t have any real, non-internship work experience yet, this may not be such a stellar idea. How do they know they want to invest more money into a field they’re not even sure will pan out for them?
10. “Why don’t you see if [insert company name] is hiring? I hear that’s a good place to work.”
Most companies aren’t always hiring—regardless of how well they’re doing. And when they are, there’s a chance it won’t be for jobs in your kid’s field. Kudos for inspiring your child to expand their search, but realize that they may have already checked the company’s website—and determined they’re not qualified for the current posted positions.
You may want to consider forwarding this list to your friends, relatives and fellow college parents—especially if you plan on throwing a graduation party for your son or daughter. Think about it: You now know what not to say, but that doesn’t mean loopy Aunt Ann knows. She may pull a, “Do you have a job lined up?” and put a damper on your recent college graduate’s celebration day.